Tags: covers


今ここにある / 私たちを楽しませるよ~!! ^_^b

Today my Facebook mini-feed announced that user_undefined was showing this to virtualstar: Six Japanese Anime Voice Actresses to Do Punk Covers CD in Bid to Make Worst Thing Ever

At first I thought, yanno, that doesn't seem so bad. virtualstar occasionally sends me tongue-in-cheek concept cover albums from a group of Japanese bands that do punk-ska covers of everything else imaginable--Broadway hits, Nirvana albums, the Jackson Five, Disney songs, you name it--and while they aren't always good, they're always an interesting take on the source material. (Besides, how can you not love a group of bands with names like "YOUR SONG IS GOOD" and "Asparagus"?) What's to keep this one from being any different? I like anime seiyuu--I listend to a lot of non-anime Takehito Koyasu and Hayashibara Megumi albums in high school--and I like screaming '90s music. It's an odd fit, but lots of good things that don't seem to go together actually do. Like chocolate and Gouda, or french fries dipped in Coca-Cola.


It is obvious that no one involved with this project understands more than three words of English. They made "Smells Like Teen Spirit" into a sweet, gentle anime ED love ballad. Yes, you heard that right. A love ballad. Sung in that annoying, eardrum-bursting high-pitched pop idol voice that the Japanese find endearing and adorable. And apparently it wasn't grating enough, or the seiyuu couldn't really sing, so they pitch-corrected it up another two octaves.

It is like pouring burning sugar into your ear canal.

(Props for their cover of "Sex and Violence," though, if only because it is obvious they have no idea what the words "sex" and "violence" mean.)

same old story, not much to say / hearts are broken every day

Apologies for emo. That last post...well, Valentine's Day is coming up, and it always depresses me.

On the plus side, I can sort of play "You Were Meant for Me" on the guitar. (Easy fingerpicking! Easy chord progression!) Jewel wrote that song with an indie rock dude named Steve Poltz she slept with collaborated with during a surfing trip in Hawaii, and when it became a #2 hit, well, nobody but Jewel remembered who Poltz was. He still tours. He must be really sick of this song by now, because apparently at every performance in which he plays this song he'll stop at the last chorus and tell this idiotic six-minute-long story about booze and hookers in Las Vegas before moving on to the final verse. That's indie rockers for you--always ready to ram a stick up the ass of anyone who came to the show for that one song that made the charts.

Anyhow, if you liked Jewel's version of the song, here's Poltz's. (This is from one of his 2006 performances at the American Legion Hall in Frankton, Indiana; he was nice enough to let his fans upload recordings of all his shows to archive.org.) His delivery doesn't have the same world-weariness as Jewel's, but he's got the same rawness to his voice. It's interesting how hearing those gentle, lilting lyrics sung by a gruff male voice doesn't recontextualize the song at all. I guess heartbreak is one of those experiences for which gender makes little difference.

The best rendition of this song I've ever heard, though, is by neither Jewel nor Poltz, but was recorded by my old high school classmate Jean Madden just after our senior year at NEHS. (Download here.) The thing that makes this version so powerful, aside from Jean's incomparable singing voice, is that there isn't the slightest hint of irony. She doesn't seem to pick up how truly sad those lyrics are; to her it's a song about someone wistful about a terminated relationship, yet genuinely hopeful that someday they'll get back together. You can hear it in her voice. The naivete turns what was merely a passive-aggressive reflection on heartbreak into something gut-wrenchingly tragic. Listening to this version is exactly like driving down the highway and seeing one of those golden retrievers people leave by the side of the road, the ones who starve to death waiting for a master who will never return.

Hearing the song again, it's more than a little depressing to realize that it pretty accurately describes what I did every weekend for my first year in New York. (Yes, I even did the smiley face thing with the eggs. Before I had a solid grasp of how much I could afford to spend, I ate a lot of eggs.) It's also disheartening to realize, matters of the heart aside, how little things have changed since then.

Called my momma, she was out for a walk / Consoled a cup of coffee but it didn't want to talk / So I picked up a paper, it was more bad news / More hearts being broken or people being used
  • Current Music
    Steve Poltz - You Were Meant For Me
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no matter what you want you will feel the illinoise or we will punch you in the mouth!

Nightlife in Illinoise: A free EP mashing up Sufjan Stevens's classic indie-folk concept album Feel the Illinoise! with New York hip-hop duo Metermaids's debut album Nightlife. Sounds like the most terrible idea ever, combining hardcore beats with gentle riffs, but surprisingly, it works. Recontextualizes the music in ways you wouldn't expect (which is exactly the point of a good mashup).

The song titles are true to the source material in that they run on forever. I imagine Sufjan would be amused.
  • Current Music
    Metermaids - The Zombies Will Eat Your Brains Out But Will Leave Your Ears And Fingertips
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geek politics

Linked in from retch: U.S. presidential candidates play D&D.

This sounds like it should be awful, but it is actually EFFING BRILLIANT.


That's the Leningrad Cowboys and the Russian Red Army Choir performing "Happy Together" at a big concert at the end of the Cold War. More superb still is their cover of Mary Hopkins's "Those Were The Days" (which itself was adapted from a Russian song by Boris Fomin).

those walls must be talking

Okay. Been posting far too much lately. But I like this a lot. So have it.

It's "You," the song from Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni (which I've had stuck in my head all week), mashed up with Eminem's "When I'm Gone." This is an astoundingly good fit, considering the common themes of nostalgia, guilt, regret, lost innocence, and brutality--and it sounds really pretty.
  • Current Music
    viotex - you feat.Eminem
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musical potpourri

Remember Party Ben, the guy who did the obvious yet unforgettable mashup "Boulevard of Broken Songs"? (Green Day's "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" mixed with Oasis's "Wonderwall"--the two songs have a near-identical chord progression. He also tacks on Aerosmith's "Dream On" just for the hell of it.) Apparently he's been busy making free music since the last time I checked his site, and his stuff is amazing in both concept and execution. Some examples of his recent work:

  • "Smells Stronger": Daft Punk's "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" mixed with Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit"
  • "Tender Umbrella": Rihanna's "Umbrella" mixed with General Public's "Tenderness" ("Where is the tenderness? Under my um-buh-rel-la, ella, ella, ella, ey!")
  • "Rehab (Can't Help Myself"): Amy Winehouse's "Rehab" mixed with the Motown music that inspired her style
  • "Led Snooppelin - Drop It Like It's A Whole Lotta Love": Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love On the Run" and mixed with Snoop Dogg's "Drop It Like It's Hot", with the Incredible Bongo Band's "Apache" as the percussion line
  • "Daft Queen - Another One Bites The Funk": Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust" and "We Will Rock You" mixed with Daft Punk beats
  • "Snow Police - Every Car You Chase": Sting and The Police's "Every Breath You Take" mixed with Snow Patrol's "Chasing Cars"
  • "Galvanize the Empire": The Chemical Brothers's "Galvanize" mixed with the Imperial March from Star Wars, with random Death Star run sound effects
  • Le Tigre's "Deceptacon" mixed with D4L's "Laffy Taffy" (not an obvious choice, but possibly the most infectiously dancable track ever)

So many of these songs made me think, "Oh no. This would never work." A minute into each track I was immediately proven wrong. This guy is brilliant.

In a similar vein...all your base are belong to Ray Charles.
  • Current Music
    Party Ben - Deceptataffy (Le Tigre's "Deceptacon" + D4L's "Laffy Taffy")
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cover dilution

Now if you're familiar with my taste in music, you know that I have a fondness for covers. The more bizarre, inventive, and outright batshit insane the interpretation, the better. (It probably doesn't reflect well on me that my favorite version of Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart" is this one.) However, even I appreciate that there are some songs that get covered straight so many times--covers of covers of covers--that the original fades into obscurity, and the only version of the song that anyone under 30 remembers is a soulless, overworked copy of a copy. It happened with Solomon Linda's "Mbube" ("The Lion Sleeps Tonight"), Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi", The Lovin' Spoonful's "Do You Believe In Magic," and even Randy Newman's "Louisiana 1927"; the versions that today's radio listeners and mp3 pirates associate with those songs have lost a lot in translation. This is not a new problem; it has obviously been going on much longer than I have been alive. However, it's always striking when I hear a song I consider to be very very old, and discover that it is even older.

Take Air Supply's "Without You," for example. About two decades ago it was my mom's favorite song; she used to play on a little boom box whenever she was doing housework. Now I grew up to detest Air Supply--they're a British-Australian band so diabetically sentimental that their albums only sold in Asia--but that particular song has always stuck with me. Despite the overwrought vocals, the overengineered piano and guitar bits, and the over- and excess- everything about that song there was an emotional center to it that for Air Supply was, I don't know, honest. In its desperate lunge for my heartstrings it actually managed to touch something--and not just because I associate it with early childhood. There was real beauty to that song, buried underneath the wailing vocals, the over-understated piano, the jarring change in key. And I didn't know until tonight that it was because there really was a good song under there--the Air Supply version was a cover of a cover--and, on top of that, a really sad story. One that involves Paul McCartney, bad business, and suicide.

This is the original:

Lots of other people have topped charts with covers of this song, including Mariah Carey, Kelly Clarkson, Clay Aiken, and most notably Three Dog Night lyrics writer Harry Nilssen--but I like this one best.
  • Current Music
    Badfinger - Without You
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